Though I'm officially not supposed to talk about it, I must make a confession.
I've been tapped for jury duty these past few weeks, and as a result, my critical acumen--surely my strong suit, readers agree--might not be as sharp as usual this time out!
While I'll still dutifully make mention of 10 of this week's most intriguing new releases, I'm bound by oath not to reveal my most recent doings!
Suffice to say that I do indeed intend to vote in favor of continued life on Earth, despite strong opposition from those devious space aliens--and thus the Pussycat Dolls' fantastic new opus will get all the praise it's due and more!
Incidentally, they're quite attractive! The Dolls, that is!
Pussycat Dolls: Doll Domination (Interscope) The long-awaited second chapter in the Dolls' marvelous audio-biography, this set recounts their teenage years--when they toured cross-country in a Suburu minivan playing punk rock clubs, crashed tupperware parties, and delivered lingerie catalogs to pay night school tuition! Featuring hot contemporary producers such as Timbaland, Polow Da Don and Sean Garrett, the disc is bolstered with the gals' hot single "When I Grow Up" and includes a heartwarming cover illustration featuring the Fab Five dressed to the nines on great big motorcycles! That each motorcycle bears a medallion displaying the initial of each PCD had me scrambling to make an anagram of the five letters-- KJNMA--but frankly, I was stumped! Luckily, the band name itself proves to be a real winner--as Scallops Dusty, Cad Slop Stylus, and Scads Pull Toy certainly attest! Music is great!
David Gilmour: Live In Gdansk (Columbia) I count myself as a lifelong fan of Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, and have to say that his last American tour--during which much of the material here was played--was spectacular on almost every level. As is most of this music, captured live at the Gdansk, Poland shipyards. And if you're a fan and a collector--and most Floydians tend to be--you'll surely love the fact that this album is available in the following versions: 1) 2CD/2DVD, 2) Limited Edition 5 Disc Set, 3) 2CD, 4) 2CD/1DVD, and 5) 5 LP 180 Gram Boxset. No truth to rumors that a golden ticket in one of the collections actually entitles a lucky fan to Gilmour himself, but there's always next year! Let's just buy 'em all!
Joe: Joe Thomas, New Man (Kedar Entertainment) I've always been a fan of Joe, not just because he's a fab R&B singer, and not just because he works with interesting people (D Mile, Rodney Jerkins and Stereotypes pop up here)! It's because he calls himself Joe! It's like...he gets to own the name! And maybe, just maybe, after too many nights in fancy nightclubs telling doormen that he's on the guest list and his name is Joe...maybe he decided to branch out! Become a new man! And so it is that Joe's latest effort--Joe Thomas, New Man--sharpens the focus a little--and now, only the snootiest doormen will ask, "Hey, are you the same Joe Thomas that played sax and flute in the '30s and '40s or are you the Joe Thomas who released Masada back in 1975? Man, that was hot!" Only then will Joe be forced to say "Just 'Joe'" one last time!
Jackson Browne: Time The Conqueror (Inside Recordings) There's a lot to like on Browne's first studio album in six years: The band is cracking, the songs are about as militantly political as any he's written, and he may not be a Republican after all! I wouldn't say he's been modeling his latter-day career on getting any sort of "hit single"--you'd have to go back to "Lawyers In Love" for that--and this illustrates how wise that move was. This just in: Though he just sued the GOP for using "Running On Empty" to promote their agenda, he hasn't said a word about their use of new track "Live Nude Cabaret!"
Kings Of Leon: Only By The Night (RCA) There are very few artists whose name naturally come up when I'm asked to name the best American rock 'n' roll band out there--I'm sort of cynical!--but I have to say these dudes are near the top of the list! That thought struck me upon listening to "Knocked Up," the opening track from their previous album, which is the only song ever performed by humans that manages to sound like Can and Van Halen simultaneously! This new disc is equally rocking, equally inspirational, and one of the major reasons I'd like to visit Leon if the opportunity ever arises!
Jazmine Sullivan: Fearless (J) Nothing but good things to say about this hot young vocalist from Philadelphia, who's highly skilled and recommended by Stevie Wonder, Missy Elliott and Faith Evans, among others. "Need U Bad" is already a hit--and there's lots more where it came from, as music critics the world over might write if they needed to! This notion of singers actually being able to sing is intriguing!
Lenka: Lenka (Epic) Former keyboard/vocalist of hip Australian band Decoder Ring in their latter days, Lenka Kripac has moved to L.A., is attractive, and makes great music! What a combo! She once told a Spanish or Portuguese blog that her favorite artists include Bjork, Arcade Fire, Amy Sedaris, Antony and the Johnsons and Will Oldham, among others! If you like them, you'll like this album! Yeah! My goal is to personally meet her, ask her her name, and then reply "You're welcome!"
Plain White T's: Big Bad World (Hollywood) Artists generally have the best grasp of what they wish to express musically--so if Plain White T's singer Tom Higgenson tells Billboard that when he describes this new album, "I don't want to use the word 'mature,'" I'm with him all the way! The big question for many will be: Does this album have another "Hey There Delilah" on it? Well, folks, I'm here to tell you this: No, it doesn't! I've checked the track listing and everything! In fact, if we're into this whole let-the-artist-do-the-talking thing, let's just mention it's got a pair of tracks called "Natural Disaster" and "Serious Mistake." Hey, if these guys can write record reviews, when do I get my record deal?
TV On The Radio: Dear Science (Interscope) They're arty, they pull no punches, and they're back to conquer the world! You've got to admire this band on many levels--the music is intricate, their arrangements are anything but stripped bare, and their long term aspiration--to deliver this album directly into the hands of an abstract idea like Science rather than, say, a guy named Larry--is pretty forward-thinking in anyone's book! Hopefully Science will write back!
Blitzen Trapper: Furr (Sub Pop) Bad enough we've got a vice-presidential candidate who digs shooting wolves from airplanes, here's a band deliberately out to slaughter Santa's reindeer! At least they're Van Halen fans!